How To Make Popcorn In An Air Fryer

Andy Waters
Latest posts by Andy Waters (see all)

If you’re a popcorn lover – and I’m sure you are – then you may have wondered if you can pop popcorn in an air fryer. Well, I’m here to tell you that yes you can! It takes a little patience, but is a super easy way to make a small batch of popcorn. It’s a great way to make popcorn for a chill night in watching Netflix, or when you just want to have a light, crunchy snack. 

There are a couple of similarities between an air fryer and an air popper, namely how they use air. Making popcorn in an air fryer is not only fairly easy but healthy too, and is a great way to make some popcorn for two.

If you’re making popcorn for a larger group of people, it’s best to stick to the classic stovetop method. Next, let’s tell you how you can enjoy some delicious air fried popcorn… But first, here is the hand’s down BEST air fryer on Amazon…

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Why Making Popcorn In An Air Fryer Is Great?

While simple, there is some trial and error when making popcorn in an air fryer, but once you’ve mastered it you won’t return to another method! Let’s take a look at why making popcorn in an air fryer is the ideal way to make popcorn for a small group of people.

  • Making popcorn in an air fryer uses less oil than the stovetop method. With the stovetop method you will need about 3 tablespoons of oil in order to pop the corn, but with an air fryer you need just one.
  • Making popcorn in an air fryer also means fewer calories. One cup of popcorn has only about 50 calories!
  • There are no chemicals involved when making popcorn in an air fryer. This is certainly not the case with some brands of microwave popcorn, that contain a chemical called diacetyl. This is what gives microwave popcorn its buttery smell and flavor, but it has been found to cause a disease called popcorn lung. 
  • Using an air fryer is a budget-friendly way to make popcorn. Popcorn kernels are relatively cheap, with a 32 ounce bag (or 4 cups) of unpopped kernels usually costing under $5.

What You’ll Need To Make Popcorn In An Air Fryer?

Not only is making popcorn an easy and quick way to enjoy popcorn, you just need the following ingredients and tools:

Air Fryer

A small, compact air fryer will work fine, and after some trial and error will let you make delicious popcorn!

Plain Popcorn Kernels

You can usually find these in the snack aisle of your grocery store, alongside the cookies and chips, and most stores will stock white and yellow kernels. 


You just need a little oil to lightly coat the kernels for delicious popcorn! I recommend making the popcorn with an oil that has a high smoking point, such as avocado oil or safflower oil. Both oils can be cooked at over 400 °F without burning. When the popcorn is popped you can then use a cooking spray like coconut oil or olive oil.

If you’re not flavoring the popcorn with real melted butter this helps salt or other flavors to cling to the popcorn. 

Aluminum Foil

If the basket in your air fryer has large holes in the bottom to help with air flow, then line the basket with aluminum foil to make sure the popcorn doesn’t slip through. 

How Do You Make Popcorn In An Air Fryer?

Popcorn that is cooked in the air fryer has a delightful crunch and that unbeatable homemade flavor that is ideal for small servings. You don’t need to use a microwave, and it is a much healthier way of making popcorn. 

However, making popcorn in an air fryer is a real workout for your air fryer, so I suggest avoiding making lots of batches one after the other, as any kernels that find their way into the heating element could get stuck, which is a definite fire hazard! If any kernels do get stuck in the air fryer, your air fryer will need time to get the kernels out of their system.

Step One

Place aluminum foil along the bottom of your air fryer to make sure the kernels don’t fall down under the basket. If they fall under the basket they build up pressure and burn, which can cause damage to your fryer. 

Step Two

Add ¼ cup of popcorn kernels and 1 teaspoon of oil to a small bowl, or small paper bag. Stir the kernels and oil together well, making sure all the kernels are coated in oil. Or, you can tie a rubber band around the bag or hold it tightly with your hands and shake it to make sure the oil coats the kernels. 

Step Three

Spread the kernels evenly in a single layer along the bottom of your air fryer basket.

Step Four

Set your air fryer to 15 minutes and start. The popcorn should be perfect in that time. If you set the machine for over 15 minutes the popcorn can burn. Once the popcorn is removed they will look like they do when using any other method, and you may notice some kernels are unpopped.

Things to Remember

If you notice that the fan isn’t working, or you see a BURN error message flash on your screen, then turn the air fryer off straight away. Popcorn may get stuck in the fan or heating element which can damage the fan.

Always keep an eye on your popcorn and never leave the fryer unattended. You need to be present to listen to the popcorn pop. When the kernels stop popping, turn off the machine regardless of how much time you have left on the timer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to use oil when making popcorn in your air fryer?

Yes, the use of oil is crucial when making popcorn in an air fryer. Oil helps your popcorn pop, achieve that crunch you want, and prevents your popcorn from burning. 

Still, some might be tempted to use the same amount of oil in an air fryer as they would use on the stove, but this is not the case. For the best results, you just need to coat the kernels with 1 teaspoon of oil that can handle high temperatures.

Avocado oil, for example, has a neutral, mild flavor. Alternatively, you can generously coat your kernels with cooking spray. 

Can you re-pop unpopped kernels?

Yes, you can. If you see that a few kernels are left at the bottom of your basket, then you can lightly coat the kernels in more oil and pop them again. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re having a date night in with a good movie, why not use your air fryer to make some delicious popcorn worthy of a movie theater? It’s quick, easy, and so much healthier than traditional methods, and microwave popcorn!

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